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Play to learn

Simulation games are good ways to train your employees to deal with real-life situations, but without the attendant consequences.
By Ruben D. Canlas Jr. |

Running a business is often compared to waging a war. It involves a lot of problem-solving. Employees are combatants who need ample preparation, and must learn to adjust quickly and easily to changing conditions. This is why in business, as in war, training is important.


The ideal training method is best demonstrated in The Matrix. In this movie, the characters can skip lengthy training sessions by simply downloading the knowledge straight to their brains. Mere mortals like us may not yet use this method – we may not even get to this level at all, but we are trying hard to do so.


In the United States military, soldier education is supplemented with computer simulation. To shorten training time for the Iraq war, for example, soldiers used computer simulation to try out new weapons and stage mock battles. The soldiers were given a taste of the real thing without going through the real thing. Using simulation minimized the cost of damage and allowed soldiers to recreate difficult war situations without suffering the consequences.



If gaming simulations help prepare soldiers for battle, they are also creative and effective ways to equip our employees for work. In the real world, problems tend to be less defined and more random. What we learned from school is not enough to deal with real problems. Hence, game simulation provides us the closest way to approach reality.


Some call centers and sales organizations use simulations to train their employees on how to handle real-world problems. Simulations may involve role-playing: an actor pretends to be an irate customer and badgers a call center agent. They also employ virtual products – if this part breaks down, here’s what you see.


It’s clear here that simulations can engage the users because these present challenges that may happen in the course of their work. Our experience verifies this. In training our employees, we found that they had more fun and learned more when we gave them challenging business scenarios. They debated the dilemmas, weighed pros and cons, discussed moral and ethical considerations, and then agreed on several ways to solve the problem. We found this more effective than if we simply read a chapter from a book and discussed it.



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